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Houjicha 101; Japan’s Popular Refreshing Roasted Green Tea

Houjicha, Hojicha 101Food & Drinks
Food & Drinks
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Houjicha is popular green tea in Japan, it is common to be offered complimentary at restaurants and accommodations as well as “Sencha” green tea.

It is the same tea leaves as green tea- it’s roasted.

Although it has a different taste and aroma from green tea or other teas, Houjicha still brings you health benefits and high relaxation with its nutty roasted flavor.

Comparing to the recent worldwide “Matcha” boom, Houjicha has been not so popular yet, but it actually suitable for anyone even those who don’t like the Japanese green tea taste.

As one of the appealing points, Houjicha is low in caffeine.

Today, I am going to introduce all about my favorite tea “Houjicha” and how affects your healthy life.

The Overview Of Houjicha

“Houjicha” (ほうじ茶)is a tea that Bancha (later harvested new green tea ) or Sencha, and also Kukicha (used stems) are roasted over high heat to bring out a unique toasty aroma and flavor.

47 Phrase

“Houji” (焙じ) is the noun term of “Houji – ru” (焙じる), which literally means “to roast”. “Cha” is “Tea” in Japanese, so “Houjicha” is “Roasted tea” in Japanese.

Houjicha? Hojicha?

You can see both spelling “Hojicha” and “Houjicha”. I am not an authority so I am not sure which is right. But the reason I spell “houjicha” because of the right translation based on when writing it in Japanese. Yet, if the spelling like “Hojicha”, it is more based on its pronunciation.

What Does Houjicha Taste Like?

Despite the description of houjicha is different for each connoisseur, it’s nutty, toasty, refreshing, and naturally sweet flavor.

The main features of Houjicha are…

  1. Roasty Flavor
  2. Refreshing clear after-taste
  3. Dark brown color

Because of the roasting process, houjicha has a different color from other kinds of green tea and also has less caffeine and tannin that create astringency flavor. Therefore, the after taste is nicely clear, and it is easy to drink for people who are not big fans of Japanese green tea.

Clear refreshing roasty taste, it goes well with any kind of meals and sweets.

Houjicha And KukiCha

houjcha, hojicha, roasted Japanese green tea

Even with the same houjicha category, the taste differs depends on its ingredients between roasted leaves and roasted stems. Houjicha mainly made with leaves, the taste becomes lighter and refreshing, and with more stem parts, the taste becomes richer and sweeter.

A stem is “Kuki” (茎, くき) in Japanese, so sometimes hojicha made of stems is called “Kukicha” or “Kuki Houjicha”.

If you want to know about Kukicha more, read this post.

Low In Caffeine, High Relaxation Effect In Houjicha

Houjicha and “Sencha” green tea are known as low in caffeine.

Caffeine contentSource
Coffee95 mg1cup (8 fl oz)USDA
Green Tea30 – 50 mg1cup (8 fl oz)health line

The table below is sourced from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

 Caffeine content/100g
Coffee60mg
English tea30mg
Gyokuro160mg
Sencha20mg
Houjicha20mg
Genmaicha10mg
Oolong tea20mg

The caffeine content of hojicha varies depending on the type of tea leaves used (the difference between second and third teas, etc.) and the manufacturing process.

As you know, “Caffeine” has a moderately bitter taste and its main effect is central nervous system excitatory action. This is the reason why caffeine is used to improve mental alertness experiencing fatigue or drowsiness.

However, depending on the constitution, it may have the opposite effect (sleepiness and drowsiness).

It because of the roasting process, the caffeine level is reduced in houjicha.

Therefore, houjicha is ideal for adults and children, those who have sensitivity for caffeine effects and digestion.

In fact in Japan, mothers often give kids houjicha divided with water.

Houjicha is also rich in theanine, which supports the relaxation effect on your mind, body, and brain.

Not only rich in theanine, but Houjicha also has particularly rich in a component calledpyrazine”produce by the roasting process. The unique toasty aroma comes from pyrazine and works to relax the brain with it.

Houjicha can be expected to have a high relaxing effect with the combination of theanine and pyrazine.

Boost Blood Circulation

Not only the winter season, even in the summer season because of the over air conditioning, are you often bothered with cold sensitivity?
Hot drinks would be nice to warm the body up, but beverages with a high content of caffeine such as coffee and Gyokuro green tea can work negatively. They’re diuretic, which removes heat retaining water from your body through urination.

Houjicha is low in caffeine, and also “pyrazine” has the effect of promoting blood flow, and warming the body.

Speaking of other nutrients, “Catechin” (polyphenol) contained in houjicha has the effect of breaking down fat cells. As well as boosting blood circulation, Hojicha can be effective for Metabolism.

Catechin also has a bactericidal action. Since it suppresses the bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath, drinking roasted green tea gives you a simple etiquette to prevent bad breath.

Read this post later to learn more about catechin. Here, it is explained as an advantage of Japanese green tea.

How To Make Houjicha Tea

Tools

Kyusu teapot and Yunomi teacupes, Japanese tea set, pouring green tea

To brew Japanese green tea leaves in a proper way, prepare a pair Kyusu teapot (急須) and Yunomi teacups (湯呑).

It is ideal for both as a first tea set for a beginner or for the tea connoisseur to enjoy Japanese green tea. (Not Matcha.)
Especially, “Tokoname Kyusu”is known as one of the significant Kyusu teapots. Using this Kyusu teapot helps you to blew Japanese tea without technics.

Also, an iron Kyusu teapot is recommended to make Japanese green tea. The iron Kyusu teapot makes water round and mellows so it is good for making delicious and sweet Japanese green tea, in this reason, many tea specialty stores using iron teapots.

It is much better to use a Kyusu teapot to make an authentic green tea, however, you don’t want to have the set just for houjicha or green tea once a while, do you?

I used to use “French Press” to make any kind of tea all the time.

You don’t have French press either?

There are tea-bag or powder types of Hojicha products, so they can be handier for daily life.

Hojicha Tea Leaves

Loose Leaves That You Can Enjoy Brewing Yourself

The leaf type is perfect for those who want to brew hojicha yourself or who want to enjoy making the tea process as tea time. It takes some time to brew using a Kyusu teapot, but it has a special taste that you can’t taste anywhere else.

Hojicha is made by roasting tea over high heat. Roasting at a high temperature creates a uniquely tasty and nutty flavor. In addition, roasting removes caffeine and tannins, making the tea easier to drink with less astringency and bitterness.

Yamasan’s hojicha is an organic product that meets the organic requirements of the JAW system based on the Japanese Agricultural Standards Law and can be a safe drink for children and the elderly.

A Teabag Don’t Choose A place

A tea bag that anyone can easily brew. It is recommended people who want to drink hojicha at the office or school, as well as those who want to make a large amount of hojicha. However, it does not contain preservatives, so try to drink it as soon as possible.

When you make Hojicha with a teabag, don’t forget to take out the teabag. If it will be left in a cup for hours, it will become strongly bitter.

A tea bag is completed in about 30 seconds after being brewed in hot water, so there is no need to leave the teabag in.

Itoen Products

Ito En(伊藤園) is the largest Japanese tea distributor company and the 4th largest company in the soft beverage market in Japan. Especially, this company is famous for producing bottled green tea as the first company.

“Itoen Hojicha Premium”is used 100% of “Ichiban cha” produced in Japan. Ichibancha is the tea harvested the first sprout of tea leaves in a year, which is rich in Amino acid creates Umami flavor and aroma. Generally, second harvested tea or later than that is used for roasted green tea, but because of the name “Premium bag”, it is the premium hojicha to bring you luxury relaxation time with its premium flavor and aroma. Uses a triangular nylon bag designed for brewing hojicha to enhance its flavor and aroma.

When purchasing “Hojicha powder”, you need to be careful about “how to use”. There are two types of hojicha powder, for a drink and for baking. Generally, the product for baking, the houjicha green tea is finely grated, so it’s hardly dissolved when making a drink.

Itoen Oi Ocha Hojicha powder is the instant hojicha powder, easy to dissolved, pocketable, doesn’t choose hot or iced, even you can make hojicha latte mixed with hot milk. (Hojicha Latte is my favorite than Matcha latte.)

Steps To Brew Hojicha Loose Leaves With The Kyusu Teapot

The Amount Of Tea Leaves

Cha saji, the special tea spoon

The best amount of tea leaves is about 6 grams(0.2 oz, about 4 tsp) for 3 teacups of houjicha. (however, it depends on the product) If you have “Chasaji” (茶さじ) which is the special spoon for Japanese green tea, it is about 2 Chasaji spoons.

This is “Kuki hojicha”, used mainly roasted green tea stems. Compared to the regular refreshing aroma of leaf hojicha tea, the stem hojicha tea is a mellow rich taste and also recommended for those who are concerned about the slight bitterness of Hojicha leaves.

The Water Temperature

High temperature is the point to bring out houjicha aroma, so the water temperature should be 90 – 100 degrees Celsius ( around 212 Fahrenheit).

Hojicha is a hard tea leaf and contains few umami components (amino acids) such as theanine, so it is difficult to allow umami components to bring out at low temperatures.

The Steeping Time

Put a lid on the Kyusu pot and steep for about 45 seconds.

To decant, hold the Kyusu pot while securing the lid with another hand. Rocking back and forth or turning gently to brew rich houjicha.

The Serving Method; Mawashi Sosogi

Mawashi sosogi, Japanese green tea manner, rule, tea pouring way

Here is the Japanese tea manner, “Mawashi Sosogi”.

Don’t fill the teacup at one time.

To make an equal concentration of flavor for each, pour a small amount into each teacup, alternating from one cup. Like if you pour each cup from right, reverse from left, do it three, four times. (1→2→3, 3→2→1)

How To Make Cold Brew Hojicha

Despite I say the high temperature is the key to enhance Hojicha aroma, you can still enjoy cold brew Hojicha. In this way, caffeine and tannins are less likely to be extracted, so it is easier to drink and pull out umami flavor from tea leaves.

Prepare houjicha teabags. Put tea bags in the container and pour about 4 cups of water then let it steep for around 3 hours. Take out tea bags when you think it’s ready to drink.

To add ice cubes, the astringency will be suppressed more.

I understand you don’t want to waste any tea essence from tea leaves, however, tea leaves begin to deteriorate as time goes by. Also, Hojicha will lose its flavor when leaving tea bags in the container. Be sure to take out the teabag before storing it.

Be careful of deterioration, especially in the summertime. Store it in the refrigerator and better to drink it within a day.

If you want to use loose leaves, a cold brew coffee maker is an ideal tool. Of course, you can make cold brew coffee so it may be not a waste to buy.

Hojicha Latte & Hojicha Sweets

hojicha latte, gifu, mino, Japan

↑↑↑ Iced Hojicha Soy Latte At HAPPA STAND In Mino city, Gifu

There is “Matcha Latte” worldwide, why not “Hojicha Latte”!

I am not sure Hojicha latte is on the menu already at your favorite cafe, anyway in Japan, “hojicha latte” is popular even at Starbucks in Japan.

Sometimes I feel an unpleasant bitter after-taste in Matcha latte, so I like Hojicha latte rather than Matcha latte.

If you would like to try, make homemade Hojicha latte.

Hojicha Latte Recipe

I like adding a very little ground ginger topping.

Other topping options…

  1. Cinnamon
  2. Honey
  3. White Chocolate
  4. Rum

 

Hojicha latte recipe

Houjicha Latte

CourseDrinks
CuisineJapanese

Ingredients  

  • 1 tbsp Hojicha loose leaves (or 2 houjicha tea bags)
  • 1 cup Milk (soy, almond, low fat..)
  • Sugar to taste

Instructions 

  • Put milk and loose tea (or tea bags) in a milk pan, allow to boil with low heat. Stir gently sometimes.
  • When the milk starts boiling, add sugar and stir until sugar melted.
  • Pour houjicha latte into the cup straining with a tea strainer.
  • *To Roast loose tea for in the pan for few minutes before making the latte, it gives more flavor and aroma.
Keywordgreen tea, Hot, Iced

 

If you want to make Houjicha latte instantly, there is a “hojicha latte mix” produced by AGF. The “Cafe Latory” series is a premium version of the “Blendy” series. 

Because of its toasty natty naturally sweet flavor and aroma, Houjicha sweets also have been popular in Japan as well as Matcha sweets. Compared with Matcha sweets attract with its unique green tea bitter taste, Hojicha sweets have a gentle but rich roasted flavor, and after taste is clear. 

Try houjicha powder instead of matcha powder for your favorite Matcha sweets recipe. 

Conclusion

Houjicha is actually suitable tea intaking as the daily refreshment especially for those who have caffeine sensitivity, digestion troubles, those who don’t like green tea or black tea.

Personally, I like Hojicha rather than Matcha because of its clear and refreshing taste. I always choose Hojicha latte rather than Matcha latte.

If you are getting tired of the same daily drink, why not Japanese roasted green tea next time???

Japanese green tea has been known for its health benefits and recommended to drink every day, but there are slightly side effects for some people who have sensitivity to tea components includes caffeine. Therefore Hojicha is low in caffeine and can be the next Japanese green tea to drink daily for your health

When you like Hojicha’s natty, toasty flavor and aroma, you will love Barley tea too. Barley tea is the staple Summer drink in Japan, and the tea has also several health benefits and non-caffeine.

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